Tondo or “round” relief casting developed as an independent art form in Florence in the first half of the 15th century. Beginning in the 1420’s, the della Robbia family began working in terra cotta sculpture. The family specialized in images of the Virgin and Child for private devotion, often reproducing them by casting. The Robbia family’s tondos were popular throughout Europe partially because of their moderate cost and ease of transport. The tondos success encouraged the della Robbia family to continue their production into the 17th century. The later style of tondo, like Madonna and Child, was a popular wedding gift during the Italian Renaissance since it could be used both indoors and outdoors because of the terra cottas durability. This image of Mother and Child, like the early della Robbia’s work is calm, graceful, warm, and natural. It keeps the traditional della Robbia palette of white against pale blue. The Kress Foundation acquired this tondo in 1929.
-Charla Hamilton, Class of 2015